An email conversation with golfer Sam Torrance

'Europe will win at Valhalla. I just think we've got the stronger team'


You have something of a history with the Ryder Cup. Every second year around this time, does the excitement rise? Absolutely. It's electric. I had 14 years as a player and then as an assistant and a captain and I would look forward to the next one from the moment the last one finished. I might have lost the ability to compete in it, but you never lose your love of it. I'll be over there commentating and I can't wait.

Who do you think will win at Valhalla this week? Europe. Why? I just think we've got the stronger team on paper. In fact, we've had that for the last few Cups. Our strength in depth is the key now, something we never had in days gone by. We always had great top players – Seve, Faldo, Woosie, Langer – but then you got down to the likes of me. And look how good the rookies are now. I mean, Justin Rose as a rookie? That's extraordinary.

Will America miss Tiger? Of course they will. You couldn't possibly bring up any positives in not having the greatest-ever on your team. And in the Ryder Cup Tiger is not as bad as it's always made out – he was their top points scorer last time. It's just that when you play him you have nothing to lose; it is not nearly as daunting as might be imagined. He soaks up all the pressure because he is the man.

Does the Ryder Cup, as an event, need a close match this time? Not at all. It doesn't matter if Europe win by nine points again. I don't see any danger of America turning off. The Ryder Cup is bigger than that. It'll be around forever.

Whatever happened to the thrilling climaxes: Bernhard Langer's missed putt at Kiawah, Christy O'Connor Jnr's two-iron at the Belfry, Justin Leonard at Brookline? Yeah, it would be great to have another one in Kentucky, as long as it goes Europe's way, of course. Those classic finishes helped make the Ryder Cup what it is. There will be more, though, I'm certain of it.

Your captaincy in 2002 was lauded. Is there any secret to leading a Ryder Cup team? No, each captain does his own thing. It's like teaching golf: each coach will have their different style. Nick Faldo has played in 10 Ryder Cups and knows exactly what is going on. Saying that, I feel I learned more in being assistant to Mark James in Brookline in 1999 than in all of my eight appearances as a player. There is so much going on behind the scenes.

Is Faldo making a mistake in going in with just Jose Maria Olazabal as his vice-captain? I'm convinced he'll have more there helping him. You need people watching each of the games and reporting back. You cannot be everywhere at once. Then again, maybe Nick does think that he and Jose can do it on their own and who knows, he might be right.

Faldo and the British media don't seem to get along. Is that important or irrelevant? I don't know what Faldo's relationship is with the British media. All I can say is that I think it's very important to have them on your side. It runs through the team otherwise. I was fortunate as I got on extremely well with the press and so did my players. At the end of our match the boys actually all got up and applauded the media.

What one piece of advice would you give him about the captaincy? Nothing technical, just to take it all in as it's happening and to savour each and every moment. This will be the greatest week in your life, but it will be over so quickly. Within a blink of an eye it's Sunday evening.

Without Colin Montgomerie there, who do you think will emerge as the on-course leader? Padraig Harrington, of course. He's the King of the Hill after his back-to-back majors and if the world rankings were proper he'd be No 1 right now and when Tiger returned, No 2 behind him.

As a Scot how disappointing is it not to have a Scotsman playing in the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1937? Yeah, it is disappointing, but I'm not going to get too down about it. These things come in cycles. The Scots will be back. Don't you worry.

Which memory do you cherish most: holding the winning putt in 1985 or being the winning captain in 2002? The captaincy by a million miles. It's funny: if you'd said to me when I was standing there arms aloft on the Belfry's 18th green in 1985 that there was going to be a better moment in my career than that I would have thought I was going to win a major. The captaincy took me by surprise. I enjoyed it immensely.

That winning putt was the first time in 28 years America had lost. They have won only three of the next 10 stagings. What happened? I think it actually started in '83 when we lost by a point at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida. That's when the self-belief kicked in – we were all travelling back knowing we should have won. 1985 was terrific but our best win was in 1987 at Muirfield Village, beating them on a Jack Nicklaus course when they had Jack Nicklaus as captain.

Who is your bet to hold the winning putt this time? You can never tell, and it's better to keep your money in your pocket as it's never going to be who you think it is. Now, top points-scorer is something you can have a go at predicting and I'd say Harrington.

Who should be captain in 2010? A tough one. Olazabal, maybe. I would certainly never do it again. I'm not on the Tour now and am not close friends with many on the team. In my opinion, you need the camaraderie and the knowledge that comes with that.

Sam Torrance took part on behalf of BMW, the Ryder Cup Partner of the 2008 European team. The BMW Urban Golf cup final will be held on Friday at Urban Golf, Soho, London. www.urbangolf.co.uk.

*Born Samuel Robert Torrance in Largs, Ayrshire, Scotland, on 24 August, 1953

*Turned professional 1970. Made first cut in his ninth event

*1972 Wins European Tour rookie of the year

*1981 First Ryder Cup cap

*1985 Sinks the winning putt in the Ryder Cup, thus depriving the Americans of the trophy for the first time in 28 years

*1999 One of Mark James' vice-captains at Ryder Cup

*2002 Non-playing captain of the victorious European Ryder Cup team at The Belfry

2003 Awarded an OBE in recognition of his captaincy of the Ryder Cup team

*Ryder Cup caps 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
people

Far-right organisation has defended its actions on Facebook

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music

Animal welfare charities have urged the boy band to cut the scenes

News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Sport
Erik Lamela celebrates his goal
football

Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here

Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo, writes Paul Scholes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker